Myeloid cells in atherosclerosis: initiators and decision shapers

Semin Immunopathol. 2009 Jun;31(1):35-47. doi: 10.1007/s00281-009-0141-z. Epub 2009 Feb 24.


Chronic inflammation is the underlying pathophysiological mechanism of atherosclerosis. Prominent suspects being involved in atherosclerosis are lymphocytes, platelets, and endothelial cells. However, recent advances suggest a potent role for myeloid leukocytes, specifically monocyte subsets, polymorphonuclear leukocytes, and mast cells. These three cell types are not just rapidly recruited or already reside in the vascular wall but also initiate and perpetuate core mechanisms in plaque formation and destabilization. Dendritic cell subsets as well as endothelial and smooth muscle progenitor cells may further emerge as important regulators of atheroprogression. To stimulate further investigations about the contribution of these myeloid cells, we highlight the current mechanistic understanding by which these cells tune atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology*
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology
  • Endothelial Cells / immunology
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Mast Cells / pathology
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Monocytes / pathology
  • Myeloid Progenitor Cells / immunology*
  • Myeloid Progenitor Cells / pathology
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / pathology